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Zorro's Journal
Zorro's Journal
December 12, 2020

California has banned the sale of new gasoline-powered vehicles by 2035. Can it get there?

State officials are confident the mandate will work but questions remain about ‘what arguably is the most important transportation policy decision of our lifetime’

In the fall, Gov. Gavin Newsom made headlines by announcing California will prohibit the sale of new gasoline-powered vehicles by 2035. How will the state get there and, more to the point, can it get there?

Officials at the California Air Resources Board — the agency tasked with making Newsom’s goal a regulatory reality — say the target will be achieved within the allotted 15 years. Some auto analysts and dealers have questions, though.

“California does lead the way in EVs (electric vehicles), so it’s not inconceivable,” said Ivan Drury, who studies trends in the automotive industry as a senior manager for Edmunds. “We’re just not there yet. Maybe by 2035, things will be different.”

But Steven Cliff, deputy executive director at the Air Resources Board, known as CARB for short, has no doubts.

December 12, 2020

Sidney Powell's secret 'military intelligence expert' never worked in military intelligence

The witness is code-named “Spyder.” Or sometimes “Spider.” His identity is so closely guarded that lawyer Sidney Powell has sought to keep it even from opposing counsel. And his account of vulnerability to international sabotage is a key part of Powell’s failing multistate effort to invalidate President-elect Joe Biden’s victory.

Powell describes Spyder in court filings as a former “Military Intelligence expert,” and his testimony is offered to support one of her central claims. In a declaration filed in four states, Spyder alleges that publicly available data about server traffic shows that voting systems in the United States were “certainly compromised by rogue actors, such as Iran and China.”

Spyder, it turns out, is Joshua Merritt, a 43-year-old information technology consultant in the Dallas area.
Merritt confirmed his role as Powell’s secret witness in phone interviews this week with The Washington Post.

Records show that Merritt is an Army veteran and that he enrolled in a training program at the 305th Military Intelligence Battalion, the unit he cites in his declaration. But he never completed the entry-level training course, according to Meredith Mingledorff, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Army Intelligence Center of Excellence, which includes the battalion.

“He kept washing out of courses,” said Mingledorff, citing his education records. “He’s not an intelligence analyst.”


December 11, 2020

Get ready for another roaring '20s, UCLA economic forecast predicts

You may be shut inside your home. You may be out working a job but in fear of contracting the coronavirus. You may be mourning the demise of your neighborhood’s small businesses. You may be unemployed and unable to pay your rent.

And for the next few months, the situation may grow even worse.

But then get ready for the roaring ’20s.

UCLA economists issued an optimistic forecast Wednesday, predicting the U.S. economy will experience “a gloomy COVID winter and an exuberant vaccine spring,” followed by robust growth for some years.


December 11, 2020

Hatred of liberals is all that's left of conservatism

Opinion by Paul Waldman

If you were dropped in from another country without knowing anything about the United States and surveyed our current political moment, what would you conclude about the Republican Party and the broader conservative movement it represents? As 2020 comes to an end, what is conservatism about?

After nearly four years of Donald Trump’s presidency in which no misdeed was too vulgar or corrupt for conservatives to defend, now culminating in an outright war against democracy itself, you might be tempted to answer, “Nothing.” Though that’s not quite true, the real answer is not much more encouraging.

Some years ago, I wrote a book arguing that Democrats should learn from the things Republicans did well. One of these was that the GOP had a simple foundation of shared beliefs that could be easily communicated to voters. Ask a Republican running for any office from dogcatcher all the way up to president what it meant to be a conservative, and they’d tick off some version of the same four pillars: small government, low taxes, a strong military and traditional social values.

Conservatives still believe in those things. But no one could seriously argue that they are any longer the animating purpose of the Republican Party. Instead, the one thing that unites the right and drives the GOP is hatred of liberals. That hatred has consumed every policy goal, every ideological principle and even every ounce of commitment to country.

“But Democrats hate conservatives, too!” you might say. Indeed they do. Negative partisanship — being more motivated by your dislike of the other party than by affection for your own — is a key feature of contemporary politics. But when 18 Republican state attorneys general, more than half of House Republicans and multiple conservative organizations all demand that the results of a presidential election where no fraud was found be simply tossed aside so that Trump can be declared winner, something more profound has been revealed.

The Republican Party has proved that its hatred of liberals is so foundational that it will abandon any pretense of commitment to democracy, if democracy allows for the possibility that liberals might win an election. They have come to regard Democratic voters as essentially undeserving of having their will translated into power, no matter how large their numbers.


December 11, 2020

Gloria sworn in as San Diego's first mayor of color, first openly gay mayor

Five new members also sworn in to City Council, creating 8-1 Democratic majority

Todd Gloria became San Diego’s 37th mayor and the city’s first mayor of color during a Thursday morning inauguration ceremony, during which Gloria promised aggressive new policies to solve the city’s largest challenges.

“We will be rolling out an aggressive strategy to address the worsening public health crisis in COVID-19, the economic crisis that is impacting San Diego’s families, small businesses and our city budget, and the housing and homelessness crisis that has become even more dire,” Gloria said after being sworn in.

“Over the next 100 days, we will dispense with the small issues that past leaders have struggled to resolve so we can focus on the biggest problems facing our city,” the new mayor said. “If we dream big and work together and believe in San Diego, we can accomplish anything.”

Five new council members and incumbent City Attorney Mara Elliott were also sworn in for four-year terms during the inauguration ceremony, which took place online for the first time because of the pandemic.


The times they are a-changin'...
December 11, 2020

Do not forget how insane it has been all along

Opinion by Jennifer Rubin

The president of the United States and 18 Republican attorneys general, led by Texas’s Ken Paxton (R), are seeking to throw out millions of votes in other states — demanding, in effect, a Supreme Court-ordered coup. This is insane, of course, but we should never forget that this is the end of a four-year process in which abnormal behavior was tolerated and Republicans became complicit in Donald Trump’s authoritarian and corrupt behavior.

Think back a billion news cycles ago. During the previous transition (and for years after), Trump touted his electoral win, showing off his electoral map. President-elect Joe Biden, on the other hand, has said virtually nothing about his margin of victory. He knows he won; he now focuses on government. Trump’s obsession with his own personal triumphs, however exaggerated and distorted, was a telltale sign that he intended to develop a cult of personality.

Or consider how Trump handled family issues and finances. He never set up a real blind trust to separate himself from his business empire, and indeed continued to make money off his presidency (e.g., charging the Secret Service for luxury rooms at his hotels, funneling business to his properties). He put his daughter and son-in-law in powerful positions for which they had zero experience. Biden has no business empire and engages in no nepotism.

Even when news breaks that Biden’s son Hunter is under investigation for a tax matter, Biden says nothing on the merits of the issue, does not impugn the prosecutors and does not even advance the hope that his son will be cleared. “President-elect Biden is deeply proud of his son, who has fought through difficult challenges, including the vicious personal attacks of recent months, only to emerge stronger,” was all the campaign said. Hmm, this is novel.


December 11, 2020

Trump and his GOP enablers are slandering American democracy

Opinion by Editorial Board

UNDETERRED BY one defeat in court after another, President Trump is ratcheting up his effort to overturn last month’s election results. He is promoting a ludicrous lawsuit filed by Republican state attorneys general. He and his allies are pressing members of Congress to reject electoral votes from swing states he lost, using a rare parliamentary maneuver that should be reserved for serious allegations of electoral malfeasance. These efforts will fail as his lawsuits have failed, but not before further entrenching Mr. Trump’s election lies and doing more damage to Americans’ faith in their democracy.

Mr. Trump’s legal crusade was never credible, raising the question of whether he really thought he could win or whether he was challenging the results simply to delegitimize President-elect Joe Biden and keep his grip on Republicans. Latching on to Texas v. Pennsylvania, the last-ditch lawsuit from Republican state attorneys general, the Trump team admitted that it cannot show fraud but argued that the Supreme Court should block the electoral college from finalizing its votes anyway. Judges will reject this wild argument, too.

But instead of deescalating, as many of his enablers in Congress predicted he would have by now, Mr. Trump is abusing yet another legitimate channel to achieve the illegitimate goal of upending the election. The president cannot halt the formal casting of electoral college votes on Dec. 14. So, The Post reported Thursday, he and his allies are increasingly focused on persuading Republicans to object to the results when Congress meets to count the electoral college votes on Jan. 6.

If at least one member from each chamber objects to a state’s electoral votes, the House and the Senate must separately debate whether to accept them. At least one House Republican already has signaled he will object; the search is on for an unprincipled Republican senator to follow suit. The maneuver would force every Republican to take a stand — for democracy or for Mr. Trump. The Democratic House will not side with Mr. Trump, nor will at least several GOP senators. So the point is the spectacle: making it appear as though there is an authentic controversy where there is none; making it a Republican article of faith that Mr. Biden is illegitimate.


December 10, 2020

Rep. Swalwell says Trump criticism behind spy story

The California Democrat says the president is trying to make him look bad.

Following a report that linked him to an alleged Chinese spy, Democratic Rep. Eric Swalwell suggested the information was leaked to hurt him because of his frequent and loud criticism of President Donald Trump.

Axios reported Monday that Swalwell was among a group of prominent Bay Area Democrats targeted by a Chinese national named Fang Fang or Christina Fang, allegedly an operative for China’s Ministry of State Security, the country’s premier intelligence organization.

Fang first interacted with Swalwell — now a member of the House Intelligence Committee — when he served on the Dublin City Council in California. Swalwell defeated longtime Democratic incumbent Pete Stark in 2012, a stunning upset that made the young pol a star member of the incoming freshman class.

By 2014, Fang was reportedly bundling donor checks for Swalwell’s reelection campaign, according to Axios. Fang also helped place an intern in Swalwell’s office.

In 2015, U.S. intelligence officials, who had been monitoring Fang’s activities, became concerned about her ties to Swalwell and provided a “defensive briefing” to the California Democrat, Axios reported.

Swalwell immediately cut off contact with Fang, and he is not suspected of any improper actions in his dealings with her.

December 10, 2020

How Foods May Affect Our Sleep

A growing body of research suggests that the foods you eat can affect how well you sleep, and your sleep patterns can affect your dietary choices.

This has not been a very good year for sleep.

With the coronavirus pandemic, school and work disruptions and a contentious election season contributing to countless sleepless nights, sleep experts have encouraged people to adopt a variety of measures to overcome their stress-related insomnia. Among their recommendations: engage in regular exercise, establish a nightly bedtime routine and cut back on screen time and social media.

But many people may be overlooking another important factor in poor sleep: diet. A growing body of research suggests that the foods you eat can affect how well you sleep, and your sleep patterns can affect your dietary choices.

Researchers have found that eating a diet that is high in sugar, saturated fat and processed carbohydrates can disrupt your sleep, while eating more plants, fiber and foods rich in unsaturated fat — such as nuts, olive oil, fish and avocados — seems to have the opposite effect, helping to promote sound sleep.

Much of what we know about sleep and diet comes from large epidemiological studies that, over the years, have found that people who suffer from consistently bad sleep tend to have poorer quality diets, with less protein, fewer fruits and vegetables, and a higher intake of added sugar from foods like sugary beverages, desserts and ultra-processed foods. But by their nature, epidemiological studies can show only correlations, not cause and effect. They cannot explain, for example, whether poor diet precedes and leads to poor sleep, or the reverse.


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